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Millennials Gain the Most Financial Ground in 2013

By Hal M. Bundrick

NEW YORK (MainStreet) It was a good year for American workers and best for the youngest among us. Fully 42% of American employees say their finances improved in 2013, but more than half (58%) of Millennial workers feel they are financially better off now than at the beginning of 2013.

The Principal Financial Well-Being Index surveys employees at small and mid-sized businesses with 10 to 1,000 workers, and while most indicated an improving personal financial situation, respondents are still divided on the future of the U.S. economy.

Four in ten workers expect the economy to worsen next year, while 32% think the economy will improve.

"Following the recent peak in economic optimism at this time last year, workers have returned to a more cautious outlook as they approach 2014," said Luke Vandermillen at The Principal. "As they prepare to ring in the New Year, it's encouraging to see American workers take action by focusing on their own personal finances instead of what they can't control -- the economy."

Fully 57% of employees say they usually feel in control of their personal financial situation. Nearly half (49%) say they believe they are making good progress toward achieving their long-term financial goals.

But there is always room for improvement: one in five (21%) report not saving enough as their top financial blunder in 2013, followed by accumulating credit card debt (9%) and taking on more debt (8%).

The budget busters for 2013 were caused by dining out (22%) and food/groceries (21%). Gas came in close behind at 20%. More than a quarter (28%) of those surveyed do not intend to make any financial New Year's resolutions this year, but of those who do, these are the improvements they'll shoot for:

  • 34% resolve to save a set amount each month
  • 28% plan to pay off credit card debt
  • 23% resolve to reduce monthly spending

More than a third (37%) plan on spending less this holiday season by buying gifts for fewer people (38%), spending less per gift (37%) or traveling less (26%) this holiday season. The majority of respondents said they plan to spend $500 or less on the holidays.

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet

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